Every Winter Veil, children of both factions write letters to Greatfather Winter and ask for toys and games. In the meantime, their parents are writing letters and saying prayers to a completely different deity: Celesty Claus, the great celestial dragon that maintains the cosmic (class) balance. Legends say that he flies through the sky on Winter Veil Eve showering the world with nerfs and buffs, and the occasional meteor by accident (one of the inherent downsides of automated shooting star delivery systems).
Classes that were good that year are happy to wake up on Winter Veil morning to find buffs in their stockings. However, classes that were bad check their stockings with trepidation, because they know they’re only likely to receive nerfs.
The rest of the year is usually spent bickering about who got the best loot from Celesty Claus and why everyone else needs to be nerfed because they’re clearly overpowered in PvP. And asking for ponies.
Of course, he never brings ponies, because he’s heartless. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, but in a literal, anatomical way. Dude’s made of stars, he’s powered by fusion reactions, he doesn’t have a need for meat and sinew. How many ponies do you know that have survived the heat – not to mention radiation exposure – of a body made of stars? So wishing for a pony is pretty stupid unless you want char-broiled irradiated pony.
This is my letter to Celesty Claus for this year, specifically for protection paladins.
Dear Celesty Claus,
I know you’re a busy man… dragon… spectral titan construct… thing. So I’ll dispense with the milk and cookies and get right to the point. Which is asking you for stuff.
1. Please bring me a version of Holy Wrath that doesn’t have the damage-splitting effect. I get the original goal – a long time ago in a continent far away it was a neat way to give Retribution AoE damage that wasn’t “free” without adding another spell to their arsenal. But this is 2014, Retribution doesn’t even have Holy Wrath anymore. It’s ours now, and really should be designed around our needs.
And right now, we need snap aggro. We’re already strong on up to three targets thanks to Avenger’s Shield. And our sustained aggro on large groups of mobs is also fine thanks to Consecrate. But the difficulty is picking up aggro on groups of 5+ mobs so that our sustained aggro can do its thing. On large groups, Holy Wrath hits weakly enough that it can’t compete with things like Dizzying Haze and Thunder Clap.
I realize that removing the damage splitting effect is a buff to Holy Wrath, and a buff to our sustained AoE DPS/aggro as well. I’m happy to accept a nerf to Consecration to balance out sustained DPS to make Holy Wrath a more useful spell.
2. Please bring us equitable talent choices on our level 45 tier. Eternal Flame is extremely strong even without our tier 16 four-piece set bonus. It really needs to be nerfed a little more in order for Sacred Shield to be a competitive option.
Likewise, Selfless Healer is in a pitiable state for protection. An instant Flash of Light, while nice, still costs a GCD, doesn’t heal for as much as a full-strength Word of Glory with 5 stacks of Bastion of Glory, and doesn’t come with the fringe benefits of Eternal Flame. Please give it some love so that somewhere, some protection paladin will feel like it’s worth taking.
If Selfless Healer could allow Flash of Light to be cast off of the GCD for protection, that would help a lot. But it also needs to heal for a lot more to make up for the fact that it doesn’t give you the long-term smoothness of Eternal Flame or Sacred Shield. Those two talents prevent spikes before they start by giving you predictable healing or absorption at regular intervals. For Selfless Healer to be able to compete with those two proactive talents, it has to be a very effective reactive choice.
It should really gain the full increase from Bastion of Glory so that the talent remains competitive as we stack mastery. Ideally, a Flash of Light cast with 3 stacks of Selfless Healer and 5 stacks of Bastion of Glory should heal for quite a bit more than a Word of Glory with 5 stacks of Bastion so that it’s your first go-to reactive tool. It’s trying to compete with two strong “over-time” effects, so it should condense the raw healing or absorption of those effects into a single huge shot. If it doesn’t heal for 80% of your health, it’s not really going to be competitive with an Eternal Flame that heals for 60%-70% and gives you several times your health over 30 seconds.
3. Please bring me a version of Consecrate that benefits from haste. As I’m sure you know, we paladins love haste, almost to the point of irrationality. And while Sanctity of Battle helpfully reduces Consecrate’s cooldown as we stack haste, it doesn’t change its tick interval. It ticks at fixed one-second intervals no matter what your haste level is.
The problem that arises here is that when we’re at high levels of haste, we can be in a position where we re-cast Consecrate before the previous one is done ticking. Since we can’t have two Consecrates on the ground, we end up clipping the earlier cast and losing ticks, reducing Consecrate’s damage per cast.
In a single-target situation, it’s fine for Consecrate to be our lower-DPS filler that remains a low priority. However, in AoE situations it is a much higher priority. That reduces the effect of haste on our many-target sustained threat. It’s almost like the spell suffers from diminishing returns with respect to haste.
More importantly, it makes it trickier to use properly for novice paladins. You lose DPS if you recast it early, but you lose more DPS by bumping it lower in priority during AoE situations. The default unit frame even shows a little timer for it, which could be misleading for a novice. I’d just like to see it work more seamlessly with Sanctity of Battle so that it feels less awkward.
4. Please make seals interesting again. I remember losing auras. It was sad to lose something iconic, but at the same time they had devolved into a “set it and forget it” mechanic that didn’t add a lot of fun game play. If it’s something I won’t change for hours and has a minimal effect on my experience, it’s probably not worth keeping.
The problem is that seals feel very much the same way as protection. Seal of Truth has been neutered to the point that the DPS increase is negligible. Seal of Righteousness is similarly weak. And most importantly, Seal of Insight is such a strong survivability component that it is almost never worth giving up for either of the other two. You could remove Seal of Truth and Seal of Righteousness from protection and most tankadins wouldn’t even notice.
But the idea behind the Warlords of Draenor talent “Seal of Faith” is interesting. We would trade a bunch of damage output for healing output. Of course, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense right now, because we don’t have the supporting tools to make that useful. But if we had a more extensive toolkit of healing spells, I could imagine using that talent to help my raid survive heavy raid damage phases.
I don’t think I’ll ever take that talent, because having Holy Shield back is just too cool, but it’s the thought that counts.
And in this case, I’d love to see all seals work on this basic principle of having a more significant effect on your play. Seal of Insight could be the default “tanking” seal that gives you a big chunk of survivability by increasing armor and healing throughput. Seals of Truth and Righteousness could sacrifice a lot of that self-healing to grant other benefits that are primarily useful while not tanking, much like Seal of Faith sacrifices damage for more (possibly) raid-healing or off-healing capability.
The one fear is that by being able to swap between highly disparate modes could cause tank imbalances. We’ve seen this before, where one tank was able to switch from high damage output to high survivability by toggling stances, and it caused plenty of problems. It’s really something that all tanks need to be able to do in similar capacities to be balanced.
But the alternative is to just redesign or eliminate seals. Seal twisting just isn’t very fun for the same reason most retribution paladins dislike Inquisition. Spending resources now for a zero-damage GCD feels bad, even if the math says it’s an overall DPS increase. And for protection, the damage increase is rarely, if ever, worth the large survivability sacrifice of dropping Seal of Insight. If seals aren’t getting redesigned, I’d rather just see each spec get one seal: Seal of Insight for protection and holy, Seal of Truth for retribution.
If you really want to go a little radical with the redesign option, give us one “passive” seal and make the others active abilities that operate like cooldowns. Seal of Righteousness could replace the active seal, granting its usual effect for 15-20 seconds on a one-minute cooldown, and then automatically swap back to the “default” seal after the effect has ended. That would give us the ability to actually use Seal of Righteousness for a temporary AoE damage boost without costing us two GCDs.
5. Please bring us an end to the raid cooldown arms race. While it’s nice to be able to contribute something to the raid group, the sheer number of raid cooldowns being tossed around is getting absurd. Many encounters are being designed around rotating raid cooldowns to survive. While there’s certainly some level of coordination involved in that, I think it makes the game less fun for healers. It also leads to class stacking on encounters where those cooldowns are not equitable.
I feel that raid cooldowns should be limited to one role, and that role should probably be healers. In 20-man mythic, the number of healers should be more stable than it is in current 25-man heroics. While the number of tanks will be stable as well, the temptation to sacrifice a little DPS for another raid cooldown would be strong. Sacrificing an entire player worth of DPS for a raid cooldown is much more punishing and also more strategic, since you would do that on a fight where you presumably want more healing to begin with.
Raid cooldowns should, in my mind, be a finite resource that you have to use intelligently and carefully. Precision tools to deal with only the most difficult situations. Rotating cooldowns to trivialize an entire 30-60 second period of an encounter just feels cheesy to me, as is having enough Devotion Auras to throw at every single instance of a boss’s raid-wide damage ability.
Yes, I will be sad to give up Devotion Aura. But I will be happier with raiding as a whole, so it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.
P.S. Sorry about killing your cousin Elegon every week for the past six months or so. He was… um… corrupted by the Mogu or something, so it was justified. Each week. Really. On the bright side, he dropped this great mount that looks just like you!
Happy Holidays from everyone here at Sacred Duty. See you next year!